reviews and comparisons

Marilyn Stasio provides reviews of The Girl Who Played With Fire and Karin Fossum’s The Water’s Edge. She advises impatient readers to cut to the chase and skip the first 124 pages of Girl, when the story really starts, and admires Fossum’s ability to examine every character touched by a crime with humanity in this “exceptionally fine story.”

At Euro Crime, Maxine reviews Ake Edwardson’s Frozen Tracks, the third Erik Winter novel to be translated though it is the sixth in the series. (The first will be published in a couple of months.) This is a very long book – over 500 pages – but she finds it overall a satisfying procedural involving two seemingly unrelated sets of events.

I managed to miss an interesting review posted last month by crimeficreader of Yrsa Sigurdarsdottir’s second novel, My Soul To Take. She thinks there hasn’t been much accomplished in the character development department from the first in the series, but finds it the plotting and tone to be very successful:

There are so many red herrings it’s like being asked to locate the one whitebait in a fish market.  Sigurðardóttir doesn’t just wrong foot the reader, she has you in the wrong footwear to deal with the terrain.  We again have the dark balanced with the light, pulled off in a rather unique and skilful way.  Watch out for a sex therapist and her tools of the trade as this element covers both those aspects.

If that isn’t a hook, I don’t know what is.

And finally – Seamus Scanlon, a guest on Declan Burke’s Crime Always Pays blog, offers an overview of the “Story of Crime” – an overarching title for the Martin Beck series by Maj Swowall and Per Wahloo. The ten books are “all written with aplomb and honesty and set the standard for all police procedurals that followed.” The Swedish series is able to write about crime and society in a way that reflects the authors’ Marxist views without becoming overly didactic.

Scanlon mentions a debt owed to Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series; in fact, the athors translated McBain into Swedish, but weren’t yet familiar with his work when they started writing about Martin Beck and his colleagues. This seems more like a Liebnitz/Newton moment, when people in two countries working with similar materials happened to invent something very similar – calculus and the Hogarthian police procedural that reflects the urban experinece in all its grimy glory – at roughly the same time. (McBain started his series nearly a decade before Roseanna was published.)

Scanlon also points out the ways in which Mankell and those who followed him into the crime writing trenches owe a debt to Sjowall and Wahloo. “Mankell’s Inspector Wallander, an existential warrior battling crime and his own melancholia, closely resembles Beck.” But that suggests a tonal similarity that, I think, is not entirely true. Martin Beck would probably be taken aback to be called a “warrior” and while he has a dose of melancholia (as well as frequent colds) the books themselves are hardly gloomy – they’re shot through with humor and irony. Which is another way in which they resemble McBain more than Mankell.

This photo from Flickr’s Creative Commons pool was taken by Jickel, who comments “The tape seems to be the kind the police use to mark out crime scenes.”

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2 thoughts on “reviews and comparisons

  1. I was quite surprised when I started reading the series (quite recently, I’m embarrassed to say) how light a touch the authors had compared to many current writers. The books are relatively short, too, which perhaps cuts down on the introspection and gloom! I enjoyed your profile of the series.

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